I have the sweetest animal story to tell you!

Last Sunday, my new boyfriend and I were getting into his beautiful classic Jaguar to go to I don’t remember where (I’ve slept since then). This beautiful red truck pulled into the driveway so we closed the doors and waited to see who had come to see us.

It was a pleasant surprise — it was Danna and husband Rick. They got out and, while we were visiting and were introduced to Peter, Rick noticed a bird acting like it had a broken wing and was all puffed up. He stepped closer to the pond and found out what this act was all about.

He said, “It’s a baby bird trapped in some vines.”

Danna and I ran over to look and of course, started to act like girls; jumping up and down turning in circles while Danna was asking me in a panicked voice, “Gin do you have a net?”

I’m thinking, “I don’t have a net but I’ll have to grab my keys to the house and go to the garage to try and find something to scoop that baby out.”

Of course, I’m doing nothing but trying to think about where I left my purse. Danna screamed at me “Nevermind, Peter is getting it.”

I thought he’s getting in that mess at the edge of the pond! Sure enough, he had on rubber sandals, and when I turned and looked, I saw him ankle-deep, reaching out to scoop up that baby bird. He got all the seaweed stuff off of the poor little thing and placed it where the scared mother was.

We all stood there watching what was going to happen next. The mother started leading the baby away from us. The poor little bird was tired it would take a few steps and have to stop and rest for a few seconds.

Danna and Rick watched for a while, then drove off to vanish into their afternoon drive around. And of course, Danna thought Peter was the hero of the day; as I did too. What a man!

And of course, I have to give Rick all the credit for noticing what was happening. We had two heroes that day! I wonder if I ever fall in the pond, would Peter jump in and save me? Yeah, I kinda think he would.

Or, it all depends on what his mood is toward me that day. Imagine even saying that, his mood toward me is always good. That’s because he’s met my family and he’s scared not to save me.

Now the mother has led the bird to the driveway, which is made up of small rocks. The poor little thing had to take about three steps and rest while the mother waited. That kept us in the driveway for a good 30 minutes or more waiting for mom to guide the baby down the driveway across the street and into the grass.

Did we mind waiting? No, no we didn’t. It felt so good to save that little thing we were happy to wait for it and its sweet mother to get out of our way before we scared it more than it already was. I say again: What a man!

n n n

I had two tickets to the Alpha Delta Kappa Retired Teachers Luncheon last week. I took my sweet sister-in-law Cathy with me and we ate some delicious food and dessert that was prepared those ladies. Labor of love, I call it.

They do a lot of good with the money they raise. Linda Winder, if you remember, gave us some of the recipes that were going to be served last week. Remember the Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake? Three cups of blueberries! All I can say about that is it was a winner. And I have some more recipes that were served that you might enjoy as much as Cathy and I did.

Pasta e Soup

(Olive Garden Copycat Recipe)

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 pound lean ground beef

1-1/2 cups chopped yellow onion

1 small package of shredded carrots

1 cup diced celery (about 3 stalks)

3 cloves garlic, minced (1 tablespoon)

3 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce

2 (14.5-ounce) cans low-sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup water, then more as desired

1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

3/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram, salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup dry ditalini pasta

1 (15-ounce) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 (15-ounce) can great northern beans, drained and rinsed

Finely shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese, for serving.

Instructions

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat, crumble in ground beef or sausage and cook, stirring occasionally until cooked through.

Drain fat from beef then transfer beef to a plate, set aside. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in the same pot.

Add onions, carrots, and celery and sauté over medium-high heat until tender about six minutes, add garlic and sauté 1 minute longer.

Add chicken broth, tomato sauce, water, canned tomatoes, sugar, basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram and cooked beef then season with and pepper to taste.

Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low, cover with lid and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until veggies are soft, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare ditalini pasta according to directions on package, cooking to al dente.

Add cooked and drained pasta to soupalong with kidney beans and great northern beans. Thin with a little more broth or water if desired.

Allow to cook one minute longer. Serve warm with grated Romano or Parmesan cheese.

There will be more next Wednesday. If you were there you know how good these teachers can cook as well as they taught school. They are certainly my heroes! Thanks for having me!

If you have recipes or tips to share, or a request, send to Conversations with Gin, P.O. Box 334, Clute TX 77531 or email ginscolumn@hotmail.com.

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